In my first Racial Drink article, Sudd Madarch – A Dwarven Liquor, I described what I thought a typical dwarven-made liquor might be like. I wanted to add a few things here.
I know most fantasy RPGs and fiction depict dwarves as master brewers (and consumers) of ale. At face value, that’s not a problem. However, the more I thought about it, the more dissatisfied I became with it. Water can be found underground. Yeast, being a fungus, can live and reproduce underground. However, the other major ingredients in ale – barley and hops – require sunlight to grow. But where do dwarves live? Underground – in mines and caves, which are pretty much sunless. So, other than by trade or plunder, dwarves have no sustainable means to produce the ingredients to make ale. Therefore, I can’t see ale being a core staple of their culture.
However, I can’t imagine a dwarven culture without alcohol of some kind. Indeed, every real-world human culture has alcohol that is derived from its locally-available resources. (Yes, I know – there are exceptions.) So, what do dwarves grow in their underground environment? My first thought, of course: mushrooms.
That was the basis for the article.
What would a mushroom liquor look like? Smell like? Taste like? I immediately thought of whisky, but with a fungal twist, of course.
What would a subterranean race add for flavor? My answer: minerals such as copper, or salt, or something else that would be mined. Also, in the various editions of Dungeons and Dragons at least, dwarves have a resistance to poison – therefore, any dwarven drink would have to have a high alcohol content, as well as a strong, almost overwhelming flavor.
I could expand on the kinds of alcohol dwarves could make, but I think each kind would easily require an additional article on its own. Also, I’d like to explore the dwarven twist on ales as well.